Time is short to submit applications for exemptions and discounts on an array of Marin add-on property taxes and agency fees. Individuals who may qualify include those who are seniors, disabled, low-to-moderate income, or have special circumstances (e.g., medical conditions that require extra water). Because so many tax- and rate- payers miss out on a cost-saving opportunity for which they qualify, the Coalition of Sensible Taxpayers is providing the information below. To ensure you’re kept in the loop, sign up for our future alerts here.
Marin County’s Property Tax Exemption webpage has a full list of the agencies whose taxes are collected via property tax bills and may offer discounts/exemptions. [Certain agencies, e.g., sewer and water, send a bill to the property owner or renter directly and offer discounts, some of which we describe further down this page.]
If you enter your parcel number in the box on the county’s exemption page, the website pulls up a list of, and telephone numbers for, all the agencies that bill YOU through your property tax bill. The list also identifies the specific agencies on your tax bill that offer exemptions. For each one, there is a telephone number for more details regarding the criteria and deadlines; in many instances there is a hot-link to the application form.
Many school districts offer parcel tax exemptions for seniors 65 and older, and often for low-income and disabled taxpayers as well. School parcel taxes are typically the largest exemptions/discounts available. Some of them have application deadlines in early May so you may need to act quickly. While income- and disability-based discounts require annual filing, school parcel tax senior exemptions need only be applied for once, though in some instances the school district may require a new application for a renewed or supplemental tax measure. Note that you may be paying taxes to more than one school district (e.g., K-8 and high school), thus requiring multiple exemption applications.
Mark your calendar: Reapply annually for any expiring exemptions!
There is also a low-income senior exemption for the Marin Wildfire Preparedness Authority parcel tax. Note that the application must be postmarked by June 30, 2021. The income threshold is pretty high. It goes up annually and last year was $97,600 for 1 person; $111,550 for two; higher for more; check the website in late April for a likely increase in the threshold. This tax is assessed on building square footage so make sure to verify that the official records show that the square footage of your property is accurate. If not, contact the Assessor’soffice.
Note that some agencies such as the MWPA do not acknowledge receipt or approval of your exemption/discount application. The only way to know for sure is to keep a proof of all your exemption/discount applications and then carefully review your tax bill AS SOON AS YOU RECEIVE IT. If you can prove that your valid application was not reflected on your tax bill, immediately contact the agency to ask for an adjustment. Advocating on behalf of taxpayers, CO$T is urging agencies to acknowledge receipt of each application and inform the taxpayer in writing whether it has been approved.
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A variety of discounts and exemptions are offered by agencies that are NOT on your property tax bill. Some are only available to seniors. Some use a “very low income” standard, meaning not so many customers qualify as under the “low-income” one used by MWPA. The most sizeable non-tax-bill discounts are those offered by water and sanitation districts:
- Ross Valley Sanitary District offers alow-income sewer charge assistance program with income thresholds similar to what MWPA’s.
- Other Sanitation Districts. There are twelve other sanitation districts in Marin. Check with your local agency for discounts.
- Marin Municipal Water District has several discount programs listed here — some are not tied to income. Note also that in the wake of the outcry against its huge 2019 meter-charge fee increases, MMWD is encouraging downsizing residential meters that are over 5/8″ in size in order to reduce the especially big charges levied on larger meters (which are the subject of a legal complaint filed by CO$T on behalf of ratepayers). The charges for downsizing are listed in item 1.2 in the district’s rate/fee schedule. Your meter size is shown on your water bill, under Account Summary, e.g., “CAPITAL MAINT. FEE FOR 1″ METER.” Make sure you ask what it will cost if you have to re-upsize, if, for example, you have to install interior fire suppression sprinklers. For more information, call MMWD at 415-945-1400 or email CustomerService@MarinWater.org
- North Marin Water District has a bimonthly low-income discount available.
- Stinson Beach County Water District has a low-income discount program. For more information and a copy of the form call 415-868-1333.
You CAN lower your PG&E bill, which may be about to rise! PG&E offers several low-income discount programs. Note that PG&E is currently automatically transitioning residential customers to time of use plan. This may RAISE your bill if you don’t act to change your usage pattern or immediately change your PG&E rate plan to the one that’s most cost-effective for you. Click here — and then click the “make your choice” button — to explore whether choosing a different rate plan will prevent a higher bill or lower what you’re already paying.
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